Program in Environmental Studies
- Corina E. Tarnita
Director of Graduate Studies
- Ian C. Bourg
- Ian C. Bourg, Civil and Environmental Eng
- Michael A. Celia, Civil and Environmental Eng
- Jacob S. Dlamini, History
- William A. Gleason, English
- Melissa Lane, Politics
- Erika L. Milam, History
- Rob Nixon, English
- Laure Resplandy, Geosciences
- Daniel I. Rubenstein, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Gabriel A. Vecchi, Geosciences
- Jeffrey Whetstone, Lewis Center for the Arts
The Program in Environmental Studies (ENV) offers a vibrant, multidisciplinary forum for engaging the scientific, political, humanistic, and technological dimensions of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. The Program in Environmental Studies (ENV) educates a generation of Princeton students as leaders to address critical environmental challenges that they will face throughout their careers and in life. We provide a strong community for students with an interest in environmental topics and provide opportunities that include a wide array of courses, summer internships, and funding to support independent work in the junior and senior years. The ENV program is distinctive for the broad disciplinary backgrounds of participating students. Students majoring in any discipline wishing to demonstrate proficiency in environmental studies may pursue a certificate in environmental studies.
Experiential learning is integral to environmental studies at Princeton. Several of the courses offer laboratory and field experiences. The internship program and opportunities are offered by High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI) and open to all students regardless of their being an ENV certificate student. The program offers many summer domestic and international internships after their first-year, sophomore, and junior years. Funding is also available for students wishing to conduct field research as a component of their independent work during the junior or senior year. Equally important to the life of the program are the colloquia and other events through which students may present their work, work collectively on group projects and interact with leading scientists and policy makers in the field.
The Program in Environmental Studies is part of the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI), the interdisciplinary center for environmental research, education, and outreach at Princeton University. HMEI is committed to advancing knowledge and developing the next generation of leadership in the environmental field. The institute comprises several major interdisciplinary research centers and educational programs for undergraduate and graduate students.
Admission to the Program
The Program in Environmental Studies is open to all A.B. and B.S.E. students. Students interested in pursuing a certificate are encouraged to register as early as their first year by completing the ENV Certificate Program Student Profile Form. Students should also meet with the director, Program in Environmental Studies or the academic program manager as soon as possible to plan a tentative course of study, including requirements for the Generalist track or the Science and Engineering track.
Program of Study
ENV courses explore emerging environmental themes and research in the sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities. Taught by world-class faculty and researchers, our classes include topics in climate science, environmental policy, land use and agriculture, environmental history, environmental communications, earth systems science, environmental justice, literature and the arts. Undergraduates may enroll in ENV courses starting in their first year. Students in the certificate program, whether pursuing the Generalist track or the Sciences and Engineering track, are required to complete five courses, investigate an environmental topic as an element of their departmental thesis, and participate in the senior year colloquium. Students must receive a grade of C or higher (no Pass/D/Fail) in all courses taken in fulfillment of the requirements for the ENV certificate.
The ENV Generalist track is designed for students who want a broad based introduction to environmental issues and who wish to study a wide range of topics in environmental studies from a variety of perspectives (social, political, scientific, etc.).
Students in the Generalist track must complete the following:
- One foundation course: ENV 200: The Environmental Nexus. Students enrolled in ENV 200 select from one of several precept/lab varieties, ENV A-F, the choice which fulfills differing distribution requirements (EM, LA, QCR, SA, SEL, or SEN). Students are encouraged to take the foundation course as early as possible in their academic careers. Please note students in the Generalist track may elect any one of the precept options for ENV 200 and are not required to take the laboratory option.
- Four (4) electives spanning the academic divisions of natural science, engineering, social science or humanities. Two of these four courses must be from different academic divisions. Three of the four electives must be taken at the 300-level or higher.
Students interested in the Generalist Track may choose ENV course electives from among a broad array of topics or elect to focus their coursework in a specific area of interest.
Humanities electives include courses with environmental relevance from departments such as Art and Archaeology, English, and Philosophy, as well as the School of Architecture.
Social Science electives include courses with environmental relevance from departments such as Anthropology, Economics, History, Politics, and the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
Natural Science electives include courses with environmental relevance from departments such as Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geosciences, Molecular Biology, and Physics.
Engineering electives include courses with environmental relevance from departments such as Chemical and Biological Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Except with the approval of the ENV Program Director or the Academic Program Manager no more than one of these three elective courses may count toward the student’s departmental concentration or another certificate. In all cases, students are encouraged to meet with the Program Director or Academic Program Manager in order to choose an appropriate sequence of courses.
Courses from each of the four elective areas are identified on the program website.
The Program provides a suggested sequence of courses to assist students with particular interest in the Environmental Humanities, Environmental Social Sciences, Food and Agriculture, or Sustainability. Students are encouraged to discuss elective choices with the Director, Program in Environmental Studies or Academic Program Manager early in their planning process. Courses that are not designated as ENV electives but have significant environmental content may also be accepted pending approval by the ENV Director; this includes courses listed under the Sciences and Engineering Track.
Environmental Sciences and Engineering Track
The Environmental Sciences and Engineering Track is for students who want to enter the program by building on course material derived from upper-level science and engineering courses in their area of expertise. Such advanced courses will enable students to delve deeply into the scientific and technical dimensions of the most complex and urgent environmental challenges facing humanity. Students are able to choose among topics, ranging from conservation and biodiversity, to climate change, to the global energy system to fresh water.
Science and Engineering Track Course Requirements:
Students in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering Track must complete the following:
One Environmental Science Foundation Courses (Choose 1)
EEB 321: Ecology: Species Interactions, Biodiversity and Society
ENV 302/CEE 302/EEB 302: Practical Models for Environmental Systems
ENV 354/GEO 354: Climate and Weather: Order in the Chaos
- One Additional Foundation Course: (Choose 1):
ENV 369/ENG 383: Environmental Imaginings and Global Change
ENV SPI 350/ENV 350: The Environment: Science and Policy
- Two environmental science or engineering electives at the 300-level or above. One of the two electives must be a laboratory course. Students are also required to take one policy or humanities elective at the 300-level or above.
Except with the approval of the ENV program director or the academic program manager no more than one of these three elective courses may count toward the student’s departmental concentration or another certificate. In all cases, students are encouraged to meet with the program director or academic program manager in order to choose an appropriate sequence of courses.
Environmental sciences and engineering track electives are identified on the program website.
Additional Program Requirements
Senior Thesis. Students in the program earning a certificate via either the Generalist or Science and Engineering track are expected to examine an environmental issue as a component of their senior thesis. The topic must be approved by both the director as well as the director of undergraduate studies in the student's concentration. The environmental content of the senior thesis will be reviewed as part of the senior thesis colloquium (see below). Students who find it difficult to incorporate an environmental topic into their departmental senior thesis should meet with the ENV program director to find a suitable alternative as early as possible in their senior year.
Senior Colloquium. All students pursuing the ENV certificate are required to participate in a faculty-led colloquium during their senior year. The ENV senior colloquium involves a series of gatherings over the course of the academic year that offers students a unique and important forum for discussing outcomes of their independent work and exchanging perspectives on global environmental issues. One of the most important aspects of the senior colloquium is the interdisciplinary dialogue facilitated by the participation of students and faculty members from a wide range of academic departments. The culmination of the senior colloquium in the spring is HMEI's Discovery Day, a poster presentation that allows students to share the final outcomes of their thesis research with fellow students, faculty, and staff.
Certificate of Proficiency
Students who meet the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in environmental studies upon graduation.